Frank Lampard insists Chelsea’s season must not be judged solely on the “black and white” Champions League qualification bid.
Chelsea will give new Premier League champions Liverpool a guard of honour at Anfield on Wednesday night, with the Reds lifting the trophy afterwards.
Lampard’s Blues face Liverpool and Wolves in their final bid for a third-placed finish, which the former Stamford Bridge midfielder would regard as a good return in his first term at the west London helm.
The 42-year-old maintains however that Chelsea’s progress this term cannot be limited to final league position alone.
“I understand the black and white judgement of the outside world and the Chelsea fans about it because it’s a clear objective to get into the Champions League,” said Lampard.
“I get that it’s black and white on the outside; I don’t think it should be on the inside.
“When you’re inside and you’re working daily and searching for improvements and signs in where you want to get to, whether you come in the top four or whether it does not quite work out, from some of the strides we’ve made this year there are huge positives that I feel at the club and what we may do going forward.
“I have a huge desire to get there but I’d still feel we’ve made huge strides.”
Lampard arrived at Chelsea last summer with the club under a transfer embargo and still coming to terms with talisman playmaker Eden Hazard’s Real Madrid switch.
The Blues’ summer squad reshaping is already underway with RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner and Ajax winger Hakim Ziyech signed and sealed.
Former England midfielder Lampard is not expected to stop there, with Chelsea having targeted a host of extra recruits, including Leverkusen’s Kai Havertz.
Chelsea trail runaway champions Liverpool by 30 points with two games to play.
Lampard admitted he will challenge his players over the summer to prove just how much they want to close that chasm.
“We weren’t really in too many people’s top fours at the start of the season,” said Lampard.
“We’ve forced ourselves in there. I desperately hope we get there.
Frank Lampard will be speaking to the media today ahead of #LIVCHE, and you can watch his Zoom press conference live on our app from 12.45pm (UK time). 👍— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) July 21, 2020
“But for me it shouldn’t put this club off its stride much because there were a lot of testing moments this year.
“We’ve shown intentions of moving in the right direction. I hope I’m showing that in the way I’m working with the players and I think the players are showing that with the performances like Sunday (the 3-1 FA Cup semi-final win over Manchester United).
“If we get into the top four it will be a big achievement, because we had a squad which included a lot of players that came back from loan making their Premier League debuts.
“And we lost probably the best player in the league, in my opinion, at the time, throw Kevin De Bruyne and Mo Salah in there, but Eden Hazard had as much of an impact as any player for the big teams.
“It will be tough because of the two games ahead of us, but if we get there it should be something we’re happy with.
“And from there, ask how can we move further forward, as a club in the summer, how we address some of the balances in the squad, and for the players that are here, how much they want to be part of Chelsea and a team that looks upwards to bridge the gap.”